PUERTO PRINCESA CITY: 3rd District Rep. Douglas Hagedorn said Wednesday that there is “rampant drug trafficking” in this city and the province, and vowed that he will exhaust all effort using own money to ensure that the city and Palawan province become narcotics-free again.
Hagedorn, who is the first government official to acknowledge the return of the drug-trafficking problem in Puerto Princesa and Palawan, issued the statement during a seminar with barangay officials dubbed Barangay Drug Clearing Operations (BDCO) with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Usec. Arturo Cacdac, also the agency’s director general, and other related government agencies.
Hagedorn said it is saddening that Puerto Princesa, which once demonstrated an extraordinary image of peace and order, is now seeing again the rise of misconduct due to the proliferation of illicit drugs.
“One of the elements of criminality is drugs,” Hagedorn told the Philippine News Agency (PNA), adding that in 2012 from confiscations of 112 kilos of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), and in 2014 it was 720 kilos per report of PDEA.
In addition, Cacdac said out of 497 barangays in Palawan, 52 or 3.9% are drug-affected, and 15 are located in Puerto Princesa.
The House of Representatives official said the PDEA’s report was a far cry from what were accomplished in the city by the Task Force Drug Enforcement Action Division (DEAD), which he headed then, and during the leadership of former mayor Edward Hagedorn.
Back then, he said, 255 individuals were jailed due to connection to drugs in 2002 to 2013. It was the time, Hagedorn said, that Puerto Princesa was recognized as a “drug-free city.”
“Once we proved that with concerted efforts, we can win the battle and eliminate drugs from the city,” the congressman said.
“If we did it before, we will again declare and claim to the whole world that we are worthy of such title,” he said, swearing that he will expend all his determination, even his own financial resources to end the problem.
Being a member of Committee on Appropriations, Drug Enforcement and also Public Order and Safety in Congress, he also promised to help increase the budget to fight the proliferation of illegal drugs.
Meanwhile, Cacdac said that the fight against illegal drugs in the city should start at the barangay level.
“The advocacy [of eradicating drugs in society]is to address it at the community level,” said Cacdac to hundreds of policemen and barangay officials.
He added that PDEA, in cooperation with Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) and Bureau of Customs, could do better with the help of barangay officials by strengthening the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs).
As the first row of defense, Cacdac said the BADAC should do information campaigns, anti-drug activities for the youth, regular monitoring of illegal drug-related incidents, and to never cover up involvement of even family members before it is too late. PNA